The Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Joseph Whittal has urged citizens not to be reluctant in suing the government if their rights are violated by security agencies amid the COVID-19 partial lockdown.
According to Mr. Whittal, “If I am an exempted person and security forces subject me to torture and I can show evidence of it, I should be able to sue the state for breaches of human rights violations…The officers who have gone into those excesses are deemed to be knowledgeable of the law and ought to be brought to book because you’re not curtailing rights in order to trade off those rights to torture people within the lockdown areas.”
He further urged the security services to follow due processes in charging a person of a crime and adhere to the directives of the President to ensure a smooth operation during the lockdown.
As part of efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus, President Nana Akufo-Addo imposed a partial lockdown on Accra, Kasoa, Tema and Kumasi.
Five days into the lockdown, security agencies have been accused of torturing citizens who try to breach the directive as well as restricting the movement of those exempted from the lockdown.
There was an instance where dispatch riders of a food delivery company were delayed several hours by security officials at the Ashaiman Underbridge area while they were on their way to make deliveries.
Such services, however, are exempted from the partial lockdown.
CHRAJ had earlier cautioned security agencies against using unjustified force or torture citizens while enforcing the law amid the partial lockdown.
CHRAJ in a statement signed by its Commissioner admitted that the emergency situation has led to the curtailing of certain fundamental rights and freedoms, but argued that “human dignity cannot be curtailed or traded off” even in the event of an “emergency situation like what persists in Ghana”.
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